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Manchester City 4 Southampton 1: Some Thoughts on a Game of Two Halves and a Dozing Linesman

April 6, 2014

Job done. The hardest home game remaining this season and a 3-goal victory procured, though not without difficulty and controversy. But three points was all that mattered to be honest.

A miserable day and the frustration of an early kick-off to go with it. There was little to surprise with the line-up though, except perhaps Jesus Navas once more being preferred over James Milner or even Jovetic, who seems condemned to the bench for the rest of this season.

And with the dull weather came a dull atmosphere, not helped by the underwhelming first-half performance and the time of day. I’m hardly the most vociferous of people so am not one to criticise, this is Premiership football nowadays.

City started very brightly, and helped settled the nerves with an early goal from the penalty spot. It was a penalty, but one of that are just accepted in the modern game without thought of how times have changed.
Nasri could easily have made it two and City looked in charge. But then they lost their control of the game and Southampton excelled with a wonderful exhibition of passing football that put us to shame for a while. We’ve been here before with Southampton of course, City once more struggling against a passing team that harries the City players, a worrying sign for next week at Anfield.

Thus when the equalizer came, also from the penalty spot, there could be few complaints. Though having said that, it was a rare shot on target for the visitors.

The second goal was clearly an illegal one, David Silva so far offside you wonder if the linesman was even watching the game. I must presume he did not see Dzeko’s flick-on, but clearly City got lucky and it was a good time to do so. The flick-on completely changed the direction of the ball though, so it was a bizarre one to miss.
Still, the narrative of City being lucky/buying referees blah blah can now continue unabated. The Southampton manager claimed that it changed the course of the game, whilst the ever-neutral Mark Ogden reported that City were clinging on at the time. As already mentioned it was certainly well-timed as it came close to the break, but to say it changed the course of the game is simply unprovable. We have seen time and time again insipid first-half performance from City, followed by the team turning the screw in the second half. I have little doubt that this game would have followed the same pattern with or without the goal. For all Southampton’s possession and pressure, they created few chances in either half. Away from the goals, City created all the best chances.

More to the point, City won by three goals. To claim one wrongly allowed goal has somehow handed us the game is frankly ridiculous.

And such relief to get another goal before half-time, the cross from an off-the-boil Kolarov outstanding.

And so to the second-half, where City dominated and created numerous chances, though Mark Ogden couldn’t bring himself to describe any of them in his MATCH REPORT, still fuming from the incorrectly awarded goal. Apart from one half-chance for Lambert, City were rarely threatened and should have added more than one goal to their tally.

Credit once more to Javi Garcia, who came on and once more did his job, stifling Southampton’s attacking intent and allowing City a greater foothold in the game. Like Demichelis, who only made one rash dive-in this time round, he improves like a fine wine week-by-week. Thankfully for the whingers amongst us, there is another play to direct our ire at.

Oh boy does ~Negredo need a goal. Any goal, off his arse, head, knee, it doesn’t matter. His confidence seems shot and it is baffling how much he has gone off the boil since he came back from his shoulder injury.
But for David Silva, the opposite is the case. He is simply untouchable at the moment, another magical display from the diminutive Spaniard.

Less so from his countryman Navas. I did not think he was as bad as some others have said and I felt he was much more involved and lively in the second half, like most of the team, but the lightning-fast dashes down the wing followed by a pin-point cross have been rather less frequent than I had hoped for. He is a frustrating player but still a great player and a hard worker.

Does Yaya Toure not want to play against Liverpool? His histrionics at the end of the game were bizarre and rather stupid for a player who had already been booked for a pitiful dive. He did not cover himself with glory yesterday all-in-all, though take a mean penalty.

I didn’t see clearly the first of Toure’s two penalty-area falls, but a friend who sits at that end said it was a clear penalty. Sadly Match of the Day didn’t deem it worthy of any coverage.

And so to the big one. By the time many of you have read this Liverpool will undoubtedly have defeated West Ham and the race for the title will remain as tight as ever. It may be defeatist of me, but a draw at Anfield will be no disaster.

Kudos to the Sun for putting Wayne Rooney in their team of the day, despite him not playing. Still, if you read The Sun, you get what you deserve.

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